Sudanese revolutionaries demand reform of the armed forces

The statements by the president and deputy of the Sovereignty Council accusing the country’s political groups of being more concerned with positions than with politics, have met with strong criticism from various parties. The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) call for the acceleration of the reform of the military and security services and the elimination of the remnants of Al Bashir’s regime.

In response to a coup attempt that was foiled on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Abdelfattah El Burhan, Chairman of the Sovereignty Council and Head of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and Lt. Gen. Mohamed Dagalo ‘Hemeti’, vice-president of the Sovereignty Council and head of the Rapid Support Militia Forces*, blamed the Sudanese political forces for the crisis in the country and condemned the lack of respect towards the military.

They accused politicians of bickering and squabbling positions instead of working for the future of the country.

The FFC, engine of the Sudanese revolution which led to the overthrow of the regime of President Omar Al Bashir, considered the declarations of the president and the vice-president of the Sovereignty Council “as a setback to the agenda of the revolution and the democracy “. transformation”.

The military leaders’ speeches contained “a host of errors and baseless accusations against the FFC”, the group said in a press release yesterday. Their demands constitute “a direct threat to the democratic transition as they attempt to drive a wedge between the forces of the civil revolution and the armed forces of the people, and to undermine the foundations on which the revolution was based”.

The FFC called for the acceleration of the reform of the military and security service, the evacuation of the remnants [of the Al Bashir regime]and the implementation of the stipulations of the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement, in particular the implementation of the Protocol on Security Arrangements.

‘Repetition’

According to the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP), “the statements of the President of the Sovereignty Council and his deputy contained dangerous indicators and unacceptable contradictions”.

“The military is responsible for the failure to manage the growing insecurity in the country and to prevent repeated coup attempts” – Sudanese Congress Party

The SCP makes the military responsible for the crises that the country is going through, “claiming a monopoly of guardianship over the country and the exclusive right to run it during the transition period”.

In a press statement yesterday, the party held the army responsible for the “failure to systematically manage the growing insecurity in large parts of the country and to prevent repeated coup attempts”, and called for “the unification of the armed forces under the auspices of a professional military institution”. The party further demands that the Ministry of Finance be solely responsible for all public resources, including investment companies affiliated with the forces military.

The Sudanese Journalists Network also sees statements by the country’s military leaders on Wednesday “as a step towards seizing power”. The network will work with other forces “to urgently mobilize the population and develop a professional action plan to deal with such attempts”.

The Alliance of Democratic Lawyers described Tuesday’s failed coup attempt as “a rehearsal and a measuring stick to show the extent of street reaction to military change.” The lawyers wondered why the information about the attempted coup only came from the military themselves and why the names of the people behind the coup had not yet been known. They called for regular updates on the investigations.

Civil rule

The alliance, along with the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, the Preparatory Committee for the Restoration of the Journalists’ Syndicate, the Committee of Pharmacists, the Committee of Laboratory Technicians, the Khartoum Resistance Committees and 17 other professional and revolutionary associations have signed a joint statement in which they strongly rejected the statements of El Burhan and Hemeti.

On Thursday, activists from El Obeid in North Kordofan, Nyala in South Darfur, Delling in South Kordofan and El Gedaref held protest vigils condemning the failed coup attempt and statements by military leaders. The demonstrators all called for civilian rule.


* The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) was established by the toppled Al Bashir regime in 2013. The militia descended from Janjaweed groups that have fought for the Sudanese government in Darfur since the start of the war in 2003, is largely considered responsible for the atrocities committed in the region over the past six or seven years. The RSF are also held responsible for the violent outbreak of the sit-in in Khartoum on 3 June. Tens of thousands of RSF troops have joined the Saudi-led campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen since 2015.

The RSF is said to have built a vast business empire that not only captures much of the country’s gold industry, but also has huge interests in many sectors of the Sudanese economy.

Officially, the RSF were integrated into the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) two years ago. In the August 2019 Constitutional Charter, it was agreed that the army and the RSF would fall under the command of the “Supreme Commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces”. At the same time, however, the militia remained a force in its own right, commanded by Mohamed Dagalo “Hemeti”, vice-president of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council.

In the Juba Peace Agreement of October 2020, the Sudanese government and a number of rebel movements agreed to form a single national professional army with a new unified military doctrine making SAF, RSF, other forces of security and fighters from former rebel movements “a single unified regular force that serves the supreme interests of the State of Sudan”. In June this year, Hemeti publicly refused the integration of his forces into the Sudanese army. Later that month, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok spoke of the need to reform Sudan’s military institutions, including the integration of the RSF militia into “a unified national army”.

Thelma J. Longworth